In this passage of John’s gospel, Jesus is taken to Pilate by the Jewish leaders, as only Pilate could legally order Jesus’ execution. They did not enter Pilate’s palace though, a Gentile residence, as that would defile them and would make them unable to take part in the celebration of the Passover. Inside the palace, Pilate could not find any legal reason to sentence Jesus to death. Pilate’s motivation in offering the choice of Jesus and Barabbas’ execution to the people was more out of pragmatic politics than seeking justice and truth.
In keeping the ceremonial law, the Jewish leaders had missed the pointer. The Passover commemorated the deliverance of the Jews from their captivity in Egypt, specifically through the sacrifice of a lamb, and the daubing of that lamb’s blood on their door posts, that the angel of death would pass over them and only cause the death of Egyptian boys, which would cause Pharoah to release the Jews. Yet, the Passover also pointed forward to the Messiah, the Lamb of God, who would be sacrificed to take away the sins of the world, to release his people from the captivity of sin. The Jewish leaders were, probably unwittingly, delivering the Lamb of God to be sacrificed, whilst observing the celebration which pointed to their acts.
We also, in our observance of religion, can miss the point. If our religion is concentrated more on the things we do, rather than looking to what Christ has done, we miss the point. We can concentrate too much on the rituals themselves, like the Lord’s Supper, instead of the Christ to whom the rituals point. Or we think there is something magical about the Bible, treating it like a superstitious charm, instead of reading it to know more about the Christ it speaks of.
Then there is Pilate, who dispensed with justice and truth in order to come to a politically pragmatic solution. After all, he was there to ensure the province was run smoothly and efficiently, an uprising because of a carpenter from Nazareth would not be good for his career. Even though, in Jesus Christ, the truth was staring him in the face, he chose to take the unjust path, the path of least resistance.
If we consider ourselves to be following Jesus Christ, the way, the truth and the life, we should act with integrity. If we are faced with situations in which the truth could be dispensed with, in order to have a pragmatic solution, we should endeavour to stick to the truth.
The evening sermon was a revisit of the fifth commandment. We are told we should honour our father and mother. In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, we are also told that we should be worthy of honour, we should not exasperate our children. In other words, we should treat them fairly, and give them reason to honour us. The bible, especially in the book of Proverbs, contains many teachings on the upbringing of children, including treating them consistently, disciplining according to their behaviour and not according to our own emotional state, so that the child knows what is right and wrong. It includes caring for them, loving them, listening to them as well as talking to them. It includes noticing their gifts and talents, that they might be guided into developing those gifts and talents, rather than using them as some form of second chance to achieve what I would’ve wanted to achieve. Of course, none of this is possible without the enabling power of the Holy Spirit working in us. If I ever become a father, I pray I’ll remember this, as well as remember the many things which are necessary for the godly upbringing of children. That I would not exasperate them, but that they would honour me because I would be worthy of honour.